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Journey of Hope North

Day 32 (McCook, NE)

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 Saturday, July 9th:

We got moving a little later than usual today, wake up was at 5:45. We slept in and had some delicious pancakes and sausage served up by the local Cub Scouts of Wray, Colorado.

On today's ride we crossed into Nebraska as well as the central time zone, two more progress milestones on our journey. It did not take long to notice the change in the climate, from a dry desert heat to a damp Midwest summer, everyone made comments about sweating more than usual. Gaining an hour did us no favors as the sun was high in the sky much earlier than usual; nevertheless, we pulled through the 95 mile ride into McCook with relative ease.

Our lodging was fantastic. The United Methodist Church and its constituents we're prepared for our arrival, the building was cool, there was plenty of room throughout the fellowship hall for our bikes and our sleeping items, and there was even a bowl of fresh fruit accompanied by some ice cold water.

A long sweaty ride made for a short and early night. After dinner and a few quick errands, most everyone was fast asleep and preparing for yet another 95 mile ride the next day.

- Jay O'Neill

Day 31 (Wray, CO)

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 This morning, July 8th, marked our last day in the great state of Colorado. 



The past few days had been a wash of emotions for the team. Only a day had passed since we had enjoyed the lavish accommodations of our Denver hotel (as well as a day off), and the wear and tear of the impending days on the road was certainly starting to show. We were in the thick of a tough sequence of rides, (nearly 400 miles over 4 days), and as we lost altitude, all we seemed to gain was heat and humidity. Personally, I felt down as my Dad, who had done a stretch of ride-alongs and had practically assimilated as the team’s 29th cyclist, had finally departed for home back in North Carolina. Seeing him leave was certainly tough, as it was a reminder that there was still quite a bit of time left before we all got to reunite with our families. Regardless, after a delicious sponsored breakfast at the Fort Morgan McDonalds, we set out on our ride to Wray, Colorado.


Fortunately for us, the weather provided some overcast that persisted throughout the day, shielding us from the heat. My pace-line (Adam Samazin, Alan Liu and Drew Cring) managed to maintain a great pace (about 20 mph) throughout the day, and we arrived at the WRAC (Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center) after about 4.5 hours on the bike.  



Sadly, Wray had no friendship visit for us, but there was plenty of downtime to experience the pool/waterslide combination directly next door. After a fantastic dinner prepared within lodging by the cub scouts, we watched a thunderstorm roll into town while we finished up our bike maintenance for the evening. Thankful for powerful fans and air conditioning, I settled down for an early night to prepare for the 95 mile ride into Nebraska the following day.

Day 30 (Fort Morgan, CO)

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 Today we rode from Denver to Fort Morgan, Colorado. As we descended from the Rocky Mountains in Denver, we were sad to see the mountainous landscape disappearing. Though everyone remained optimistic to see what new experiences were coming up next for us.

Eastern Colorado is very different from what we had seen so far; open spaces, rolling planes with little shade on the road. The ride was tough for the cyclists, but they showed incredible grit and persistence and pushed through a tough day on the bikes. As a former cyclist for Gear Up Florida, I know how mentally taxing it is to endure a long stretch of road. These brothers have definitely shown their worth as cyclist and it makes me proud to be their Chief.

We stayed in First United Methodist Church, where we were welcomed with open arms. The Elks Lodge of Fort Morgan cooked and hosted the team for dinner. It was relieving and inspiring to have so much support from complete strangers after a taxing day. It is gestures like these that give me the motivation to continue every morning. As our days in Colorado dwindle, we are anxious to see what lies ahead of us in Nebraska and the rest of the Midwest.

-Timothy Schlachter

Day 24 (Steamboat Springs, CO)

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Today Journey of Hope North traveled from Craig to Steamboat, in the mountainous state of Colorado. The cyclist biked around 45 miles to a church in the downtown area of Steamboat. From the crew perspective, it did not seem like too difficult of a ride for them, due to all the down hills. They have gotten a lot stronger in their cycling throughout the trip and after doing multiple centuries; the guys seemed pretty comfortable. We also had the opportunity to meet with the alumni and sponsors that would be with us for the majority of the Colorado rides. The two “ride alongs” I had the opportunity to officially meet were Chris Kontos and Bruce Rogers. Chris is the father of one of the cyclists on our route, Michael Kontos, while Bruce is a major supporter of the ability experience, both on and off the bike and through his firm, as well as the creator of Journey of Hope.


Compared to Craig, Steamboat is placed closer to the mountains and is considered by most to be a ski-town. Since we had a looser schedule today, the guys were able to go around the city and have some time to hang out/tour the area. Personally, I took time to get my hair cut, get some food and catch up on my off-road crew duties. Dinner consisted of a friendship visit with the Horizon group of Steamboat. Talked with the clients, ate with them and played a laid back trivia game toward the end of our time with them. While they were not a high energy group, they were very talkative and we all had a fantastic time. To close the evening, the crew and cyclists were treated to ice cream by Bruce, his family and other KRG firm members. The place they took us was delicious and it was great to talk with the people that help make the ability experience events possible/successful. All in all, I had an awesome day exploring the town and meeting new people interested in our daily activities on the road!

-Kameron Toondor

Day 19 (Park City, UT)

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 The ride into Park City was a nice and scenic. The ride started with a pretty incline, but was mostly down-hills afterwards. It was not a long ride but had amazing hills, rivers and lakes along the way. Being from Arizona it was great to see so much greenery all around.

We had a ride-along for the day from the Theta Xi brother. His name was Cody Stoddard and happens to be interning in Salt Lake City for the summer.

We arrived to lodging at a beautiful church just on the edge of the city. We had a bit of free time to spare so everyone got changed and headed towards Main Street. We visited the local shops and farmers market that was set up along the street. It was great to hang with the team and explore all that Park City offered.

For dinner we had some really amazing buffalo burgers. The food really hit the spot. We also were watching an international soccer game. Few brothers knew the teams from all the practice they get on FIFA. For those of us that did not know soccer all that well, we choose a side and started cheering. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Written by Andrew Cring

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